How would you put together a legendary tech startup team? When it comes to finding a bunch of superstars like The Avengers or The Expendables of software development, you can’t just hire whoever has the best technical knowledge (although that stuff is important too). There are certain traits that you need to look out for, and we’ve made a list of them so you know what to focus on at your next interview. If you manage to hire people that possess every single one of these six traits, you’ve got yourself a winning team.
As you may know, startups are high-stress environments where time is of the essence, and you can’t always afford to hire someone for specific tasks. Often, you’ve got to work with what you already have, and this applies to employees more than anything. Of course you’ll be hiring people with specific skills, but it doesn’t hurt if they’re somewhat multi-talented, and can improvise when it comes to completing a task outside of their area of expertise. Your core team should be made up of people who don’t mind assuming different roles, solving problems that are not strictly related to their field and taking on responsibilities that are not in their job descriptions. In the long run, working this way will help you forge a very strong core team, as your first hires will all have a comprehensive understanding of your company and how different processes work.
A Good Fit
Growing a young startup takes a lot of teamwork. When there’s five or six of you locked in an office for the better part of every workday, you need to make sure that there is as little friction as possible between the members of your team. Of course, it’s good to have people who think differently: the constant clashing of ideas is vital for innovation. But you want to hire someone that fits in with your team’s dynamics, someone that the others actually like. It’s a good idea to involve your team in the recruitment process, and make hiring decisions together.
A startup is not something that’s finished or complete in any way, in fact, it’s just the opposite: constantly growing, changing and reinventing itself. There is always something that could be better. Logically, a startup needs people that can think of ways to improve the company, as well as to come up with a bunch of innovative ideas quickly to overcome unexpected challenges, adapt to tricky situations, and pivot if need be – and these people are the so-called intrapreneurs. An intrapreneur is someone who behaves like an entrepreneur while working within a company, so basically someone that has an endless amount of innovative ideas about how the company could become better and more efficient. They usually have a spirit of their own and are not afraid to push back and have their opinions heard when they think they know better. And best of all, they feel like it is in their interest to bring out the most of the company.
An “Act First, Think Later” Type of Person
This may sound like bad advice at first glance, but hear us out. As a startup, you probably don’t have time. Like, for anything at all. Waiting until your team comes up with the best of all possible solutions for a specific problem is just not an option. There is a limited amount of time that you can spend dwelling on this and that issue, and every second lost can cost you. Sometimes (not always), it’s better to just trust your gut and do the first thing that comes to your mind, then see what happens. Hiring people who are ready to act without overthinking it can have a really positive effect on your problem-solving efficiency and your time to market, for example. Why not just get your product out there as soon as possible and see what users think? For this, you need people who are extremely confident in their own abilities and their own judgement.
This one is actually a no-brainer. A startup can only function with a team whose members can fully identify with the company’s mission, who have absolute faith in the product or service that they’re developing, and who do not feel like they’re compromising their values, morals or priorities by working at this particular company. If you hire someone who has doubts as to whether the world really needs your startup or your product, they’re never going to be fully dedicated to your cause. This will take a toll on their endurance when it comes to making sacrifices, like working long hours and staying on top of their game in a stressful environment. Hire people that believe in you one hundred percent, better yet, who themselves are potential users of your product.
An Odd One Out
Technically, this is a paradox, but you want all your startup employees to be misfits, to be odd ones out, to somehow not fit in with anyone except each other. They’ll each bring something completely unique to the table, something that only they can do, something that distinguishes them. They will be the heart and soul of your startup, and everything you do will be shaped around them. So choose wisely and select special people that work well together: that’s how you go from being a bunch of nerds to a team of champions.